Meet your lawyer, HAL 9000

by Sol Dolor22 Nov 2017
One of the UK’s top prosecutors has predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) will soon replace lawyers to prepare for criminal cases.

David Green, director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), used his agency’s investigation of Rolls-Royce as an example in an interview with local publication Evening Standard. During the course of the four-year investigation, which was made subject to a £497m deferred prosecution agreement earlier this year, the SFO analysed 30 million documents to investigate bribery and corruption.

“In a few years’ time I can imagine the courts expressing themselves in favour of wider use of this kind of artificial intelligence,” Green said. “Normally we would use large numbers of barristers hired in for short term to go through the documents one by one. But in the Rolls–Royce case we noticed two things — one, that it took about a tenth of the time, and two, it was shown to be more reliable, because computers don’t get bored, they don’t get distracted, and the algorithm that drives the AI actually learns as it goes along, as it makes its decisions.”

“It’s done fairly routinely in civil cases, but if you imagine it being applied to finding things of relevance in a criminal investigation you could get through very large amounts of information,” he said.

In the Rolls-Royce case, data show that AI systems can process an average of 600,000 documents a day, compared to about 300 for a human lawyer.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the SFO had ramped up the use of AI, as revealed by the substantial increase in money it spent paying for AI services.


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